Categories: ASHEcon, Newsletter, Newsletter Issue 2018:2

Profile: Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV, and HIV (CHERISH)

By Michelle Papp

Founded in 2015 as a collaboration among Weill Cornell Medicine, Boston Medical Center, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorders, Hepatitis C (HCV), and HIV (CHERISH) is a multi-institutional Center of Excellence, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The Center’s mission is to develop and disseminate health economic research on healthcare utilization, health outcomes, and health-related behaviors. This research can inform treatment policy and address the needs of integrated healthcare system providers and payers.

ASHEcon member Sean Murphy, Ph.D., serves as director of the CHERISH consultation service. This nationwide service is free to researchers whose work aligns with the CHERISH mission and who would like to incorporate an economic analysis into their research. Interested researchers request a consultation online and are subsequently connected with Dr. Murphy to determine if the research project is appropriate for consultation and identify potential consultants. Once an introduction between the consultant and consultee has been made, consultees receive up to six hours of consultation time.

Former CHERISH consultee, Lisa Clemans-Cope, Ph.D., said of her consultation with Dr. Murphy and Dr. Bruce Schackman, Director of CHERISH, “The consultation was terrific and I received advice, suggestions, and feedback via telephone conversation, email, and document review. [Dr. Murphy] and [Dr. Schackman] have deep expertise to share, and they are lovely to work with. Thank you!” Dr. Clemans-Cope leveraged the consultation service to develop a grant application in response to a special projects fund proposal invitation.

CHERISH investigators recently published findings from the implementation of the consultation service, which suggest a definite need for health-economic methodological guidance among substance use, HCV, and HIV researchers and offers lessons learned pertaining to the feasibility of service provision, the need to implement systems to measure and improve service value, and strategies for service promotion.

In conjunction with the breadth of expertise offered by CHERISH consultants, consultees may be directed to resources made available on the CHERISH website and videos of previous trainings and presentations given by Center investigators. Resources include costing, health-related quality-of-life, and resource utilization assessments, an example budget impact tool, recommendations for academic writing about substance use, and health economic references.

One resource is an article led by CHERISH Methodology Core Co-Director Kathryn McCollister, PhD published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in October of 2017 which provides an up-to-date summary of monetary conversion factors for economic evaluations of substance use disorders. Guided by common assessment tools used in substance use disorder research such as the GAIN, ASI, and NMS to select domains and measures, Dr. McCollister used several data sources to create a list of unit costs to monetize societal impacts. She focused on the domains that are relevant for substance use disorders such as medical and behavioral health services, substance use disorder treatment, infectious disease consequences, productivity, criminal activity and criminal justice system contacts, social services, and disability.

The publication came in response to recent guidance from the Second Panel on Cost-Effectiveness in Health and Medicine, which encourages researchers to broaden their analytic perspective to include multidimensional costs to society, including many indirect costs previously considered in cost-benefit analyses. The guidance includes using an impact inventory that organizes which costs align with the narrower health care system perspective vs. the broader societal perspective.

More information on the CHERISH consultation service and recommended resources for researchers is available on the CHERISH website, where those interested can also learn more about the Center’s previous and upcoming trainings. For updates on Center accomplishments and activities, subscribe to the CHERISH newsletter.

Michelle Papp is a Senior Research Assistant in the Department of Healthcare Policy & Research at Weill Cornell Medicine.